tv [untitled] June 14, 2012 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT
other challenges to deal with and i didn't deal with. and i think that was my risk number one. >> and in relation to the operation which you touch on in this paragraph. you say at the end of the paragraph you regret that the opposition politicians failed to devote enough time to scrutinize the governments and hold them to account. did you devote any time to this issue? >> well, i was aware of the issues, but frankly i think, as i say here, the government didn't give enough attention, the opposition didn't give enough attention, and i think that's a matter for regret. >> -- this paragraph to the other media examination issues in 2003. without getting into any of the details, is that intended to be a reference to evidence that you once gave to the committee on that statement?
>> no, i think it's just the general reference to things that weren't right. when i was writing the evidence, you know, i was trying to reflect on how i felt as -- i wasn't leading the opposition then, but just generally. and i looked back at some of the evidence and thought, you know, well, parliament was doing its job and select committee was doing its job, but the party leaderships weren't picking up the issues and perhaps the way they should have done. >> and before the liaison committee, when you appeared there last year, an overly close relationship permitted regulation issues be put on the back burner. so you're attributing cause and effect. is that something that's you're comfortable with? >> yes, i think that's right. the way i've put it is that politicians were spending, you know, their time trying to get their message across and when it
was necessary to disengage and discuss regulatory issues, that wasn't happening. and i think that's been happening under governments of both parties for some time. >> what was your reaction to 2007? aside from a few days before he was aparting? >> i can't -- i mean i read it again, actually, in the last couple of days. preparing for this and there's a lot of -- a lot of good points in it. but the problem there isn't much of a solution. there's quite a good analysis of this the problem of the 24-hour news cycle, turning up of the volume on news and comment. but there wasn't really a specific solution. i can't remember what i said at the time. like all these attempts to try and raise the issue. i suspect the political parties probably really didn't give it much of a background.
>> okay. paragraph 25, you identify. leading to the public perception that media seeing their media figures in general or specific individuals in particular can have too loud of a voice in the country's politics. isn't it more than just a perception, that particular aspect you identified there? >> well, i think that depends on how robust the politicians are in standing up and defending their values, policies, their approach. i think we deal with this risk by making transparent all these meetings. but i would argue very strongly, you know, my policies are determined by my beliefs, values, my party's beliefs and values and not by what particular editor or proprietor might want. and i give you some examples of my evidence of where i had quite strong disagreements with rupert murdoch over the bbc or the
"daily telegraph" or what have you. this is a risk. you i think mitigate it through transparency. but as i always go on to say, you need a -- a vigorous public debate. so people can see if politicians are regularly caving into media pressure that goes against something they previously said. the public can draw their own conclusions. >> looking more broadly, the part of the problem may be the politicians who have been guilty of a form of appeasement. the power of the press to consolidate. and that's happened really over a generation. >> i -- i don't like the word appeasement. i think that's a bit too strong. i think what's happened as i said is politicians have been focused on getting their message across rather than regulation. i think there have been good examples of politicians on all sides confronting and facing down very strong campaigns that newspapers or others might have.
>> i use the example of identity cards or 42-day detention, which i was opposed to, which some parts of the press wanted. more than appeasement, it's more about just not focusing on these issues when they needed to be focused on. >> related to that, it's not the size of the voice, in part the manifestation of economic and commercial power. we've allowed too much to accumulate in a small handful of individuals. >> i think this is a difficult question. a lot of the time, it isn't necessarily the size of the group, it's the strength of the voice of the paper.
it's a very strong product it puts its voice very powerfully. that is not related really to the market power. it's to the way it pushes its agenda. >> do you feel that might not always be about market power. it is part of the explanation, part of the problem. >> i'm not sure about that. i think, you know, as i say, i think you can have individual papers that are particularly strident if i can put it that way. whereas if you look at the international group, not always have all the papers headed in the same direction. some of them as it were shout a bit louder than others. i think it's about the nature of the us voice.
having said that, you do need rulings. >> paragraph 29, mr. cameron, page 04015. the third risk. we've touched on aspects of this already. allowing pressures to shift and therefore shape the agenda in a number of issues here. as you know, a number of witnesses have identified the heart of the problem as the fusion of news and comments. do you agree with that analysis? >> i don't really. because i think it's quite difficult. in an ideal world. the front page of the newspaper was all the things that happened in the world yesterday and the comment was entirely separate and all the rest of it. i think it's quite impractical. i've been thinking about this because a lot of your witnesses have made this point. and i think it's quite difficult to try and separate it. so often the headline
encapsulates both the fact and opinion. i think it's very clear that it happens. and i think it's rather forlorn hope you can separate. >> the point you were making earlier whereas 50 years ago when there was television and therefore people got their news very much from their daily newspaper and they would read the parliamentary debate or they would read of a court case, that was how they learned the facts. >> yes. >> it really plays into your point that because of the 24-7 news cycle, newspapers are now required much more to provide their own angle -- >> an impact. >> and that means inevitably opinion? >> i think that's correct. and that's why i'm sure other
politicians would take this. because, of course, we spend a lot of time interacting with newspapers and arguing newspapers and trying to get our point across. but i think if you talk to any modern political party in britain and what do you really spend your time on more than anything? it's actually the 6:00 news, the 10:00 news, the thing that still watched, not by 15 million people, but i don't know, 6 million people all at once, that's where it's differently regulated so it's not a problem. but in terms of how much time do we spend with these newspaper groups and all the rest of it? a big, big focus, and i hope that comes across in what i say. >> it does mean that the arguments about not being held to account doesn't really work when you are being held to account by broadcasting journalists all the time.
without it being obvious that the way that they are regulated that impacted the way -- >> well, i think, newspapers and television hold politicians to account in a different way because of the way news is put together. the newspapers do play a very important role in terms of accountability because they've got, you know, investigative approaches and budgets and the rest. they can really go after stories, get to the details. i think there is a difference. and, you know, the strength of our democracy would be a lot weaker if we didn't have both, you know, giving us a tough time. >> but it's not immediately apparent that broadcasters don't hold politicians to account. it seems they do and certainly the broadcasters from whom i've heard don't recognize the
suggestions of the duty to ask appropriate questions or probe appropriately and not understanding the strictures of the regime. >> i'm sure that's right. but perhaps there are some things that newspapers have been able to do because they don't have the impartiality. >> of course. >> things like the steven lawrence campaign or other campaigns which are more, what a better word? edgy. so if you didn't have that -- >> i kindly agree. >> understand, mr. cameron, is your analysis that on the fusion of news and comment point either there isn't a problem so there's no need for a solution or there is a problem but there isn't a solution. >> there can be a problem in some cases. but, you know, we have to -- i don't think it's solvable. so i think we should not try and
find some -- some of the answers people come up with i don't think are particularly credible. >> the issue may be one of culture, would you agree? >> yes, i think with all these things. culture is fantastically important. we can write all the rules that we like and have all the training packages, whether it's the ministers or journalists' behavior, culture is massively important. and it's important in every aspect of life. >> thank you. >> the point you make in paragraph 131. page 04138. dealing with the issue of campaigns. you say in the last sentence that you've never traded or offered a position on policy in
the erms of the support of any media outlet. do you believe that others have? >> i can't think of any particular example. >> okay. >> the fourth risk you identified about lobbying, we'll come back to that. and move back to paragraph 47 of your statement. we've covered in part. this is the recent history. the relationships that tend to grow too close. how to identify when you approximately believe that phenomenon started to rise. >> this is difficult. i would argue it's partly this growth of the 24-hour news agenda and therefore the different road of newspapers.
i think that's had an impact because politicians have wanted to try and get their message across with newspapers taking a more aggressive stance. i think there's also some sort of history which you've heard a lot of in the witness -- of, you know, the john major government. and it did have an absolutely terrible time. if we get in, we've got to be better organized. we've got to be more efficient. at communicating. and i think like all things in life, i think the pendulum swung too far the other way and there was too much spinning and culture of daily news fighting and all the rest of it. and we need the pendulum to swing back a bit while still being professional and able communicators because you've got to try to get your message across in a difficult world. i'm not trying to blame the
whole thing on new age. but i think it's been a developing story. you've got the conservative government under john major that knew there was a problem, the last chance forever, then you had the arrival of new labor and i think the combination of that with the 24-hour news agenda is what lies behind some of the problems. >> so the pendulum was swinging in the wrong direction as it were possibly from 1994, 1995 and was possibly in the wrong place until july 2011, does that sound about right? >> well, i think there have been various attempts along the way to grab hold of the pendulum and do something about it. you mentioned the federal speech, that mentioned a whole set of things the last government did in terms of putting briefings on the record,
prime ministers going in front of the liaison committee. i would argue that the new rules for special advisers, we've introduced the greatest transparency. so i think there's been steps, but clearly, you know, why are we all here? we're here because of the truly dreadful things that happened not to politicians, but to ordinary members of the public whose lives have turned upside down when they've already suffered through losing their children. and it's totally unacceptable way. and this is sort of a moment where press, politicians, police, all the relationships that happen have been right. we have a chance to reset them. and that is what we must do. >> what do you see as the harm to the public interest? how would you define it flowing from this relationship of undue proximity? >> well, the way i put it is the closeness that i've talked about
lea leads, i think, potentially to these risks. and i've enumerated those risks. i think this is achievable and needs to be done. >> is it possible to describe one of the risks in this way that the relationship has become transactional that there are implied understandings because each party well knows what the other party wants? >> i don't accept that. i mean, first of all, on this idea that somehow the conservative party at news international got together and said, you know, you give us your support and we'll wave through this merger that, by the way, we didn't even know about at that stage. and i think the idea is nonsense and you've heard that from lots of people in this inquiry. i also don't believe in this
theory some sort of covert agreement. of course i wanted to win over others. i wanted to communicate what the conservative party and my leadership could bring to the country. i made those arguments, but i didn't do it on the basis of saying, either overtly or covertly. your support will mean that i'll give you a better time on this policy or that policy and there are plenty of examples of policies which i believe that the people who are backing me didn't believe in. >> is there also risk that overly close personal relationships, by which i mean individual relationships between politicians and journalists have allowed judgment to be clouded? >> i think obviously you have to take care when you have personal friendships. but i think that can be done. and i like to think that i've
done that. >> okay. i'm still on the general perspectives, mr. cameron. comment on the manipulation of the media by politicians, favoritisms, and anonymous briefings. have you seen evidence of these vices in your own party? >> yes. i mean, you know, these things do happen. and it's deeply regrettable. and as long as there's been a press and politicians, these things happen. but, you know, it is very regrettable. it often makes, you know, running a political party more difficult, running a government more difficult. you know, it's deeply disruptive. but i think there are, you know, degrees of this. and of course, some politicians have journalists they have a good relationship with. they think they're going to
understand a particular speech or particular idea better than others. and in this world where the newspapers aren't reporting yesterday's news because that's already been reported, clearly newspapers are looking for something special, for something special. they're looking for a particular angle or a particular story. so there are -- there are responsible ways of handling media relations in that way, but, you know, briefing against people, doing people down, there are some dreadful things that have been done in politics on both sides that are very, very regrettable. >> what's the solution to these vices, in your view? >> well, i don't think there's any one capture. i think there has been a problem in terms of some individuals and some special advisers, and i think we now have a better special advisers code. one of the things i wrote into the code is that special advisers work for the whole
government, not just individual ministers. i think that's important, but i don't think there's any one -- as you say, it's a mixture of rules and culture. >> sir john major made the point in relation to proprietors they are responsible for the culture in their organization and within that, if there's a word to put a halt to bad practice and to a poor culture, do you have the same argument, in your view, apply to politicians? that the responsibility is at those at the top? >> yes, i think it is. i think it's very important if you find out these things have been happening, you are need to condemn them properly and act properly. i think that is the case. >> i ask you to address mr. brown's point that reporting is his type of -- sensation lies. he said politicians don't simply make errors of judgment. their motives are always put
into question. did you associate yourself as a matter of generality with that point or not? >> i think there are occasions when that can happen. as i've said, it links back to this thing about newspapers being under pressure to find something special and differ and go for impact and sometimes that can mean questioning motives. so you do -- i ought to make this sound like sort complainin- of course, we should have a vigorous press and should give us a good going over and they do, but, you know, there's bound to be a certain amount of that. the way i put it, the volume log is sometimes just in term really high in our press, and i'm not sure sometimes that does anyone any favors. >> the volume nob is turned too high and a constant of that, motive is always impugned.
if you turn it down lower and examine human nature as it is, usually, goes out of error of judgment, mistakes are made or not have vehement appalling motive? is that you way you see it. >> there have been politicians with bad motives. if a politician is seen doing something bad -- the press is good in making that point. that i think is all fair for the press to challenge that. sometimes it feels as if the volume nob is turned up. >> allow me to go to the second area, your own personal approach, and we can start with paragraph 73 of your witness statement. which is on page 04118. you explain the nature of things, of your contact, such
contact, and formal on the record interviewers and formal background conversations, dialogue and that pattern is, of course, the same as everyone els is? >> yes. >> paragraph 34. no formal record of who initiated the contact although you believe the majority of cases contact would be initiated by your staff. is that right? >> yes. i mean, we had -- the leader of the conservative party at the end of 2005 clearly, you know, had a program of wanting to get our message and policies across and that meant at proactive campaign, talking to journalists and whether it was regional newspaper, national newspaper, television stations and the exhibit, dc 2. a fantastic set that goes on for five years of meetings. i can't promise it's 100% accurate, because you're going back to paper-based diaries in 2005 and the rest of it, but it's a pretty big list. >> do you have a strategy at the
beginning of each year where you map out who you should be seeing over the course of the year, or is it much more advantageous -- in other words, i don't are staff decides on a weekly or month will basis who you might see? in other words, there isn't a strategy, internationally, 36% of the market? it following you should be seeing them 36% of the time? if i can put it in that way? >> strategy mapped out at the beginning of the year of the things want to achieve, the policies you want to get across, the ideas want to champion. after that, right, how do we do that? what's the mixture of newspapers and television and direct campaigns and the rest we want to do. then following i think you're looking at, where are we going to have impact? and i like to think from the information i've given you, you can see that i've spent a huge amount of time with all newspapers, but you are thinking you know, with all respect to the "daily mirror" there is a certain amount of impact i'm
going to have from meeting with the "daily mirror" as it were newspapers who have in the past or might in the future back a conservative cause are obviously going to be better grounds for me. >> so the main touchstone that is impacted, as you rightly say, not go to devote too much time on those not supporting you. focus on those who might be or are on the side -- >> yes, but i repeat again you know that the television cannot be your side because there are rules of impartiality. a huge a lot of time when i became leader was spent how do we get our messages on the television? i think that is the most important medium of communication. >> there's no formal record, you say in paragraph 77, of what was discussed in each meeting. we can quite see if there were lengthy lists that would be oppressive bureaucratic and
counterproductive. >> yes. >> what about incapsulating a gist in sentences what was discussed in transparency? would you favor that or not? >> i think there are improvements we can make here. the idea someone suggested of a sort of written note of every interaction with every editor, every broadcast -- i think that would be overly -- most of the meetings are pretty similar. you're explaining why you're in favor of free schools and academies and how to get that message across and why the policy is a good idea. you're explaining something that you've already published, but where i think there are, there is potential for improvement is -- is in two areas. if it's obvious that this is a meeting where the proprietor or the broadcasting business or what have you has got some, you know, commercial issues they want to raise, then i think it
does make sense that a note is taken. or if in a meeting that's really about your policies and your approach and the rest of it, there's a discussion about commercial interests, and ip thi i think again in government, under the minister koeshgsd you're probably right that the minister or politician should make a reference to that, to the private secretary. a good example of this i give, and i really want to -- you know give a kick to an industry that's having a difficulty time anyway. regional newspaper, i go all over the country, lots of politicians do, lots of meetings with the region newspaper groups and you're there explaining why the government's helping these midlands or the west country, whatever it is, but often they will say, quite fairly you know, we are being hammered by these free newspapers put out by local authorities, taking advertising. it's not fair. this is the big state, as it were, squashing out the big society.
what are you going to do about it jie think it's completely fire raise that point, but you could argue that is a media organization raising a policy point, rather than just having an exchange about politics and policies and since some way that needs to be registered. the problem with all this is, the more rules and codes we create, the more difficult it is to make sure in every instance that people abide by them. i don't want to create a system that doesn't work. that is permanently broken, that would actually sap the faith of the public in this whole area, but i think some modest additions to the ministerial code to deal with the two particular points i've made, i think that is something we could certainly look at. >> and back to 79, mr. cameron, you identify a small number of journalists who are close friends of yours. not including your lists, you name them there. it's inevitable that friendships arise and these are